Recap: The Sold Out Branchez Show at Havoc Thursdays

January 26, 2015 -

Nick Monge

Santa Ana was the place to be last Thursday, as White Rabbit Group hosted their latest installment of Havoc Thursdays at the Yost Theatre. Talent for the night included the fast-rising Branchez on the headline slot, supported by local DJs K.O.MODO, Pollo, and White Rabbit’s own Keef Koded. Anticipation for this show was fierce, and suspicions that it would sell out were confirmed: before the event even started, presale tickets were all scooped up.

front line

We arrived at the venue at about the same time as a couple party buses and got to see 225 people swarm the lines like eager puppies at dinner time. Opening DJs K.O.MODO and Pollo are students at Cal Poly Pomona, so they coordinated the buses to shuttle their people down the long 24-mile drive to the venue. I was told that this was one of the first times in a while that the event sold out before doors opened, but that it was likely to sell out even without the party buses. Either way, the place was electric from the time that doors opened.


The Santa Ana crowd really enjoys aggressive sounds, and Big Room is a proven success at Havoc. As K.O.MODO transitioned through Progressive House hits and Trap, people would rush to the dance floor as soon as they walked inside. He's an experienced house-party DJ, and it's refreshing to hear that kind of quick mixing in a club environment. The packed dance floor apparently agreed, as they all sang loud when "No Type" dropped.


Pollo opened with a remix of “Ping Pong,” and it received an overwhelmingly positive response. His set had a lot more songs at 128 bpm, and that tempo was working very well for the time slot. After waiting in line for a long time, people were excited to walk in to a high-energy set.


After two crowd-pleasing sets, Keef Koded took the stage with a different approach. His opening songs were much more mellow, and slower in tempo. It was a clear shift in energy, but there was no lack of approval from his audience. He went on to weave through genres in a very tasteful manner, and at one point I even thought I heard a little fidget. Keef Koded, otherwise known as Lance Kirsten, is also the Director of Promotions at White Rabbit Group and is regarded among his peers as vital to the business. After his set, I caught up with him and asked him what was next for his own DJ career. He said:

I'm utilizing the knowledge from my time working behind the scenes to grow my self as an artist. Brand recognition is everything in the industry, and I want to use the skills I've learn to take my career to a whole new level.


After hitting capacity at midnight, the entire theatre was warmed up and ready for Branchez to take the stage. The New York native has been increasing in popularity on the west coast, and just finished playing HARD’s Holy Ship. His remix of “Heroes” by Alesso has been popping up in sets everywhere, and it was a distinct moment during his own set at the Yost. Despite listening to his Soundcloud for a few days and thinking I was familiar with his music, his set was surprising and interesting. At one point he dropped the Mike Candys and Jack Holiday remix of "One More Time," a remix I really enjoy but haven’t heard in a long time. It’s always a great feeling to know that you’re watching someone who has a bright future in the scene. Brandon Owen, head of White Rabbit, recognized this when I ran into him backstage. He said:

Selling out a well-known name is a requisite, an expectation. Selling out a show for someone who is coming up is something else and infinitely more rewarding.


Overall, I had a great time at Havoc, as I did when I saw the Panda Funk showcase. The artists getting booked at this weekly residency are on par with many other big promoters, young people who love dance music are abundant in the area, and the momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Somebody just needs to tell the Yost to put another set of bathrooms in that place.

White Rabbit is celebrating their 5th birthday this Thursday, and have finally released the surprise headliner. Get your tickets to see 12th Planet and Gladiator right HERE, and go check out their Facebook page right here.

Photos by Ryan Hadji.

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